March 3, 2024 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

SJO boys’ basketball starts 2024 with win

Tanner Jacob has filled the role this season.
Same for Coy Taylor. Tanner Siems. Logan Smith. And Luke Landrus.


More often than not, the St. Joseph-Ogden boys’ basketball team has relied on a balanced offense this season.

And it’s working well, with the Spartans carrying a 13-2 record and an Associated Press state ranking into Saturday’s 14-team Christie Clinic Shootout that SJO will host.


SJO started the new year with a resounding 69-47 home nonconference win against Williamsville on Wednesday night, the Spartans’ first game since taking second place last week at the State Farm Holiday Classic in Bloomington-Normal.


Here’s a roundup of what the Spartans have been up to on the court the last few weeks:

Taylor shines against Williamsville
The Spartans overcame a slow start on Wednesday night before cruising to a 69-47 win against Williamsville in St. Joseph.


SJO trailed 14-11 at the end of the first quarter, but took a 36-27 lead into halftime and led 48-40 to start the fourth quarter before pulling away for the 22-point victory on the same day SJO was ranked eighth in the latest Class 2A AP statewide poll.

Taylor, a junior guard, scored a team-high 16 points for SJO. Siems, a junior forward, Jacob, a senior guard, and Smith, a senior guard, all complemented Taylor by scoring 13 points apiece.
Siems added eight rebounds, while Taylor had four assists, Jacob produced four assists and Smith finished with five rebounds and six assists. Junior guard Collin Thomey added eight points, while Landrus, a senior guard, sophomore guard Tim Blackburn-Kelley and sophomore forward Parker Fitch all tossed in two points apiece.

Spartans take second at State Farm Holiday Classic
SJO was in a position to repeat as champions of the State Farm Holiday Classic small-school bracket this past Saturday night.


But a buzzer-beating three-pointer from El Paso-Gridley’s Chancesaye Maxon denied the Spartans that feeling, with the Titans prevailing 49-48 in the title game at the Shirk Center on the Illinois Wesleyan University campus in Bloomington.


Landrus scored a team-high 19 points for SJO, which trailed 16-13 at the end of the first quarter and 24-22 at halftime before going into the fourth quarter tied at 39.

Taylor added 11 points and four assists, while Jacob delivered nine points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Siems (seven points, four rebounds) and Smith (two points, five assists, two steals) also contributed in the game featuring two teams ranked in the latest AP Top 10 poll in Class 2A.


Prior to the one-point loss to El Paso-Gridley, the Spartans rolled to the championship game after a 91-61 semifinal win against Pecatonica on Dec. 29, a 66-40 quarterfinal win against Rock Falls on Dec. 28 and a 56-47 first-round win against East Dubuque on Dec. 27.

Taylor shined during the win against Pecatonica at Normal West High school, pouring in a game-high 31 points. Taylor finished 11 of 12 from the field, including 6 of 7 from three-point range, and made all three of his free throws. He added six rebounds, six assists and two steals as SJO led 23-17 at the end of the first quarter, increased it to 42-32 at halftime and enjoyed a 67-47 lead going into the fourth quarter.


Jacob was also efficient offensively, scoring 20 points, grabbing three rebounds and handing out three assists. Siems joined Taylor and Jacob in double figures with 13 points while collecting five rebounds.


Smith nearly produced a double-double by scoring nine points, handing out 11 assists and finishing with seven rebounds.

Landrus (six points, three rebounds, three assists), sophomore forward Trevor Ames (four points), sophomore guard Ryker Lockhart (three points), junior guard Logan Lackey (three points) and Fitch (two points) rounded out the scoring.


In the quarterfinal win against Rock Falls at the Shirk Center, SJO built a 17-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, took a 30-21 advantage into halftime and increased it to 53-32 by the start of the fourth quarter.

Jacob scored a team-high 16 points for the Spartans, while Taylor wasn’t far behind with 14 points along with three rebounds and three assists. Smith wound up with nine points and seven assists, while Landrus produced nine points and nine rebounds.


Siems (six points, six rebounds), Thomey (four points), Lackey (three points), sophomore guard Will Haley (three points) and Lockhart (two points) also chipped in.


SJO’s closest win at the State Farm Holiday Classic happened in its first-round victory against East Dubuque at Normal West. The Spartans trailed 16-12 at the end of the first quarter before taking a 27-24 lead into halftime and expanding it to 46-37 by the end of the third quarter.
Siems scored a team-high 15 points, while Jacob and Smith joined him in double figures with 13 points apiece. Landrus (eighth points), Taylor (two points), Lockhart (two points), Fitch (two points) and Thomey (one point) rounded out the scoring.

Spartans go 2-1 in week before Christmas
SJO won its first nine games of the season before losing 55-53 at Beecher on Dec. 22 in a back-and-forth nonconference game. The Spartans won their two previous games before making the trip north to play at Beecher, defeating Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin 63-45 at home on Dec. 19 and topping Normal U-High 77-47 at home on Dec. 15.


Siems scored a team-high 20 points in the loss to Beecher, with Landrus contributing 12 points and five rebounds and Jacob recording 11 points and six rebounds. Smith (eight points, five rebounds) and Thomey (two points, six rebounds) also chipped in.

The win against BHRA saw Siems deliver a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three assists and three steals. He was one of four Spartans in double figures, with Jacob (16 points, six rebounds, three assists), Landrus (11 points, seven rebounds) and Taylor (10 points) joining him. Smith was the only other Spartan to score, finishing with seven points, six assists and five rebounds.


Jacob dropped in a team-high 20 points during the win against Normal U-High, making 5 of 8 from three-point range. Smith was next in line with 15 points and seven points, while Landrus tossed in 13 points. Siems and Taylor each finished with nine points, while Lackey (six points), sophomore guard Asher Pruemer (three points) and Blackburn-Kelley (two points) all contributed.

What’s next
After Saturday night’s home game against Pinckneyville that is part of the Christie Clinic Shootout that SJO is hosting, three tough tests await SJO next week. The Spartans will travel to play at Teutopolis at 7:30 p.m. next Tuesday in a nonconference game before SJO hosts Pontiac at 7 p.m. on Jan. 12 in its first Illini Prairie Conference game of the season. The Spartans will then have a quick turnaround before hosting Maroa-Forsyth at 7 p.m. on Jan. 13 in a nonconference game.

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